Verizon Goes IoT

November 9, 2015 by  
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Verizon has rolled out ThingSpace, a development platform for companies of all sizes to create Internet of Things applications more efficiently and then later manage those apps.

The carrier also announced it is creating a new dedicated network core for IoT connections that can scale far beyond the ability of its existing networks with the intent to reach billions of sensors and devices.

“Continued innovation in smart cities, connected cars and wearables demonstrates that IoT is the future for how we will live and work,” said Mike Lanman, senior vice president of enterprise products at Verizon during an event held at Verizon’s San Francisco Innovation Center. He said Verizon is taking a “holistic approach” to help expand the IoT market from millions of connections to billions. The event was webcast.

Other major wireless carriers, including AT&T, are developing programs to offer a range of services to industries and cities for connecting IoT sensors to wireless networks and then to cloud services for data analysis.

At Verizon, Lanman said the company is working to lower the cost of connecting billions of existing devices that companies have used for years to Verizon’s network. Holding up a new computer chip made by Sequans Communications, an LTE chip maker, he said the chip will provide a “significant reduction in cost…that changes the game.” It will provide 4G LTE connectivity in modules connected to IoT devices to “make the wide-area network more accessible to developers.”

Also, next year Verizon will launch a new IoT core network within its LTE network to provide a “much lower cost” than with Verizon’s existing wired and wireless networks.

“The cost for an IoT module and the cost to connect will both drop dramatically,” Lanman added. “Whether you are connecting your dog or water meters and any other low-payload devices, we’ll handle it through a new IoT core.”


U.S. LTE Speeds Drop

October 5, 2015 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The U.S. has dropped to No. 55 in LTE performance as speeds rise rapidly in countries that have lept ahead some early adopters of the popular cellular system.

The average download speed on U.S. 4G networks inched up to 10Mbps (bits per second) in the June-August quarter, according to research company OpenSignal. That was an improvement from 9Mbps in the previous quarter, but the country’s global ranking fell from 43rd as users in other countries made much larger gains.

The U.S. was one of the first countries with commercial LTE service when Verizon Wireless launched its network in late 2010. But other countries that adopted the system later started with better technology, and some have secured more frequencies or rolled out enhancements that U.S. carriers haven’t embraced as much, OpenSignal said.

New Zealand scored the highest average speed in the quarter with 36Mbps, coming up from nowhere in the rankings. But perennial standouts like South Korea and Singapore kept getting faster, too. The average LTE speed in Korea is now 29Mbps (up by 4Mbps), and in Singapore it’s 33Mbps, up by 5Mbps.

OpenSignal collects data on cellular performance through a free app that mobile subscribers can use to measure the speed they’re getting and find faster networks. The results announced Wednesday are based on readings from more than 300,000 users worldwide, the company said.

Countries like Hungary, the Dominican Republic and Morocco beat the U.S. in average LTE speed, but they aren’t necessarily smartphone paradises. Mobile users in America can use LTE more of the time, for example, because their carrier’s networks are built out. Subscribers in the U.S. are on LTE 78 percent of the time, on average, making the country No. 10 for what OpenSignal calls “time coverage.” Moroccan LTE may be fast, but 49 percent of the time, users there don’t get it, for example.


Verizon Fixes Serious Securty Flaw In FiOS

January 29, 2015 by  
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Verizon corrected a serious vulnerability in its My FiOS mobile application that granted unfettered access to email accounts, according to a developer who found the problem.

Randy Westergren, a senior software developer with XDA Developers, looked at the Android version of My FiOS, which is used for account management, email and scheduling video recordings.

“Since Verizon has a good amount of my information, I thought it would be a good candidate for research,” Westergren wrote on his personal blog. “I was right, and the results were astonishing.”

The flaw, contained in the application’s API, could have allowed an attacker to read individual messages from a person’s Verizon inbox and even send emails from an account, he wrote.

Westergren looked at the traffic sent back and forth between My FiOS and Verizon’s servers. He found My FiOS would return the content of someone else’s email inbox by simply substituting a different user ID in a request.

He contacted Verizony, which later acknowledged the problem. Verizon issued a fix last Friday, Westergren wrote.

“Verizon’s security group seemed to immediately realize the impact of this vulnerability and took it very seriously,” Westergren wrote. “They were very responsive during this process and even arranged for a free year of FiOS Internet service as a token of their gratitude.”


Will Verizon Throttle Users?

October 15, 2014 by  
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Verizon Wireless backed away from a widely criticized plan to slow down the connections of heavy data users with unlimited LTE plans.

The carrier had announced in July it would extend a practice it calls network optimization to unlimited LTE subscribers starting in October. Network optimization targets the top 5 percent of data users on the network when a cell site is under the heaviest demand, and slows down those users’ network performance. Verizon had already applied the practice to the top users of its 3G network.

“We’ve greatly valued the ongoing dialogue over the past several months concerning network optimization and we’ve decided not to move forward with the planned implementation of network optimization for 4G LTE customers on unlimited plans,” the carrier said in a statement on Wednesday. “Exceptional network service will always be our priority and we remain committed to working closely with industry stakeholders to manage broadband issues so that American consumers get the world-class mobile service they expect and value.”

U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler attacked the plan in a letter to Verizon, suggesting it was a ploy to get customers to switch from their unlimited plans to ones with a cap on monthly data usage. Verizon no longer sells new unlimited plans but allows subscribers with those plans to keep them.

“I know of no past Commission statement that would treat as ‘reasonable network management’ a decision to slow traffic to a user who has paid, after all, for ‘unlimited’ service,” Wheeler wrote in the late July letter to Verizon Wireless President and CEO Dan Mead.

Digital rights group Public Knowledge also attacked so-called data throttling, as well as practices by AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile USA.

The showdown demonstrated the tension over increasing demand for mobile data, which carriers say puts a strain on their networks. Among other things, that demand has led operators to seek ever more spectrum and apply network management techniques they say are necessary to keep serving all subscribers well. Though LTE makes much more efficient use of the airwaves than 3G does, LTE networks are serving a rapidly growing number of subscribers.


Is Verizon Interested In Clearwire?

April 22, 2013 by  
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Verizon Wireless reportedly has offered $1 billion to $1.5 billion to acquire some of Clearwire’s spectrum leases, possibly complicating Sprint Nextel’s attempt to buy out the company in conjunction with its acquisition by Softbank.

Clearwire is struggling financially but owns broad swaths of spectrum, the lifeblood of wireless networks. The April 8 bid from “Party J,” which Clearwire disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Friday, is the latest in a series of offers for its spectrum licenses. Unnamed people familiar with the matter identified “Party J” as Verizon Wireless, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Clearwire is a key part of a complicated set of possible transactions that could make a much stronger competitor out of Sprint, the country’s third-largest mobile operator. Sprint already owns roughly half of Clearwire and is bidding about $2.2 billion to buy the rest of its stock. That deal depends on Softbank’s planned $20.1 billion offer for 70% of Sprint, which is still undergoing regulatory review.

Clearwire holds 150MHz of spectrum or more in most major markets of the U.S. Verizon would buy only a portion of that spectrum. “Party J offered to acquire Clearwire spectrum leases generally located in large markets,” Clearwire said in the Friday filing, a proxy statement to shareholders on the Sprint buyout bid. The proposed gross price of $1 billion to $1.5 billion would be reduced by what Clearwire pays for the leases, which could be substantial, according to Clearwire’s filing. The company said it would discuss the offer with “Party J” and Sprint.


Is Google Going Wireless?

November 26, 2012 by  
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They already sells phones and tablets, provides a wealth of online services and has been laying high-speed fiber to people’s homes. Now Google is apparently  weighing the possibility of a wireless network service as well.

Google has been in talks with satellite TV provider Dish Network over a possible partnership to build out a wireless service that would rival those from carriers such as AT&T and Sprint, the Wall Street Journal reported late last week.

The talks are at an early stage and could amount to nothing, and Google is just one of many companies Dish is talking to, according to the Journal, which cited anonymous sources. But it raises the prospect that Google might expand its business in a new direction.

Dish has been buying spectrum that could support a wireless service, although it still needs regulatory approval to set one up. In an interview with the Journal Thursday, CEO Charlie Ergen said the partners Dish is talking to include companies that don’t currently have a wireless business.

Google declined to comment on the report, the newspaper said.


at@t Wants More

August 13, 2012 by  
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AT&T plans to buy NextWave Wireless, a holder of spectrum that could be used for mobile data services, for about $600 million.

NextWave owns licenses for spectrum in both the WCS (Wireless Communications Services) and the AWS (Advanced Wireless Services) band. AT&T said in a press release it plans to use that spectrum to feed “skyrocketing” demand for mobile data, but it will have to wait for an ongoing Federal Communications Commission review before it can take advantage of the WCS band.

The FCC auctioned WCS spectrum in 1997, but it has not been used for mobile data because of rules designed to prevent interference with satellite users in adjacent bands, AT&T said. In June, AT&T and satellite radio company Sirius XM filed a proposal to the FCC for using WCS while protecting the nearby satellite users, but the agency is still reviewing that plan. If it is approved, AT&T hopes to start using the WCS band in about three years.

The NextWave deal is only the latest in a series of moves by big mobile operators to secure more spectrum. AT&T characterized its proposed merger with T-Mobile USA last year, which was opposed by the FCC and other regulators, as first and foremost a deal to acquire spectrum. Verizon Wireless announced a deal earlier this year, which is still under FCC review, to acquire unused wireless licenses from major U.S. cable operators.


The FCC Gives AT&T The OK

December 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Smartphones, Telecom

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission approved AT&T’s US$1.9 billion buying of spectrum from Qualcomm on Thursday, allowing the carrier to salvage one ambitious deal to acquire more spectrum, after squashing its planned merger with T-Mobile USA.

AT&T announced its plan to buy the Qualcomm spectrum last December, a few months before it revealed the much larger proposal to merge with T-Mobile for $39 billion. It said both were motivated by the need for more radio spectrum to increase the coverage and capacity of its LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network. AT&T withdrew the T-Mobile plan on Monday after the FCC, the Department of Justice and others said it was not in the public interest.

With the Qualcomm purchase, AT&T will get 6MHz of spectrum across the country in the coveted 700MHz band, as well as another 6MHz of spectrum in five major metropolitan areas: New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco, according to the FCC’s order released Thursday. Those five markets represent about 70 million potential subscribers. The carrier has said it plans to use it as a supplemental downlink for its LTE network, allowing for faster and more consistent mobile data service.



Galaxy Nexus 4G LTE Finally On Sale

December 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Smartphones

Verizon Wireless finally announced that the Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone running Android 4.0 on its 4G LTE network will be available on Thursday in stores and online for $299.99 with a two-year agreement.

The announcement, which came late Wednesday, arrived after days of speculation that the phone was being delayed over a dispute between the carrier and Google over the Google Wallet application, which doesn’t work on Verizon’s version.

During the period many expected Verizon to release the Galaxy Nexus, problems with the carrier’s LTE network arose for nearly two days, pushing LTE users to Verizon’s slower 3G service.

But Verizon never admitted there was any delay in releasing the device and pointed out that it had never given an official release date until Wednesday.

Verizon will carry a 4G LTE version that supports download speeds of up to 12Mbps. Online sales were set to start at 1 a.m. ET Thursday.

The new device has many features putting it at the top of the market for competing smartphones, including one of the highest prices: $299.99. Many rivals are priced at $200 or $250 on other U.S. carriers.



Sprint Finally Gets The iPhone

October 10, 2011 by  
Filed under Smartphones

Sprint Nextel confirmed that it will offer the next version of Apple Inc’s iPhone, ending months of speculation about whether it would become the third U.S. carrier to sell the popular device.

But the No. 3 U.S. mobile provider would not say whether its iPhone would come with a flat-fee service for unlimited data use – an offering analysts see as Sprint’s only hope for making its iPhone more competitive than rivals.

While selling the device should help Sprint keep subscribers from fleeing to other operators, some analysts worried whether the costs would outweigh the benefits because Apple phones come at a steep premium to other devices.

This is a huge gamble for Sprint and people are justifiably worried that they won’t be able to make any money doing it. It’s not a company that’s in great financial shape right now,” said Stifel Nicolaus analyst Chris King.

Analysts questioned how Sprint will be able to find the money to pay a premium to Apple on top of its obligations to pay back billions of dollars in debt and its plan to spend about $5 billion on an network upgrade in coming years.

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